- Freddy Ramirez
In The Middle
Not really. (I actually haven't played in over a year. Ugh.) But I like to watch fast, talent filled competitive action. I haven't been sitting in the stands, but I like the feel of the event, even though I'm more like an outsider looking in. (Passing by is more like it.) I follow the draw, read some of the updates on the event site when I can. I watch the Roundups on SquashTV, though they are smartly putting them on Youtube just as quickly, so far. The early rounds, despite the dominant play of the top guys, provide great squash to highlight, which makes the superlatives filled commentating worth hearing.
What seems like one of the event marketing companies involved has also created some interesting "Drop Shot" videos. I really like the idea, which isn't new, but it's a direct connect with people who know or have some passing interest in the sport (me). The video channel also includes some highlight type videos that could be cool, but feel amateurish even though they obviously contain great production footage. The video below connects with me because I know it's Nicol David's first time playing Grand Central, which is kind of hard to believe when I think about it. Had I not been digging, I probably wouldn't have come across it, which makes me think some too. (Again, think Paola, only worldwide.)
And every year, even though I'm not inside the ropes watching, I can feel the energy of the people who stop and watch. Some will stand for long periods of time behind the front wall of the court and a few will camp out early to get a prime spot. Add to that the area on the opposite side of the space, used for booths, a bar and special access areas, it seems a bit surreal. I guess because that whole area is the "Waiting Room", where there used to be lots of benches travelers could use while waiting for their trains. They were removed a number of years ago. It seems like they were removed because of the large amount of homeless people who would plant themselves there to get out of the cold or find shelter. I may be wrong about that, though I did say it seems. And standing right there in the middle, I always have some mixed feelings. The New Yorker in me paused to consider the social stuff. The racquet freak in me loved seeing the court and feeling the energy. Both loved being there.
I read on this TOC website blog, labelled, "Day 2 : Giving It the College Try". I'm only a bit familiar with the squash college scene and collegial squash culture from a distance, though I have some experience that could be worth noting someday. Very interesting quick-glaze over the topic of college squash at top tier schools. And in a not-so-subtle segue, big props to Nicol for her visit to StreetSquash. I think this program, and the many like it facilitate greatness. (Image lifted from the StreetSquash Facebook page... via Tweet sharing.)
Back to what I know personally...
I was also on the other side of the world Saturday. The Bronx. With no Tier 1 action to follow, their was something a little closer to home to follow. Robert Sostre organized an "Out of the Hat", keeping the talent pool high with the invitations. (Organized tournaments run thin this time of the year.) As I watched, I silently was thinking about about just how nichey racquet sports can get, looking at sub-cultures. And this was mine. I basically grew up playing this and because of this I have a deep appreciation of all the racquet sports I've played, and still play.
It was definitely not for anyone prone to getting their feelings hurt. Still, plenty of love and fast and fun action to watch.